The 10 Fastest Street Cars for L.A. Canyons

Toonces

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Oct 22, 2010
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I'm obsessed with L.A. Canyons...as are, I suspect, many of you. I've always been a fan of long-form venues: the Mille Miglia, the Carrera Panamericana, the Targa Florio, South America's Gran Premio, Australia's Redex Rallye, the East African Safari, Paris-Dakar, Paris-to-Peking, Rome-to-Berlin (cancelled on account of WW2) and, for that matter, Around the World in 80 Days. Most were gone by the time I got my driver's license, but growing up in L.A., me and my car-crazy buddies were always looking for the perfect 'sports car road.' There were no lack of candidates--the infamous Mulholland Drive, the Pacific Coast Highway up near Monterey, Route 78 down by Julian--but nothing could rival the Angeles Crest Highway out near Mt. Wilson.

And now developer Phoenix77 has delivered a perfect simulacrum of a 42-kilometer (26 miles; the same length as an Olympic marathon) loop of the canyonland roads that twist, swoop, curl and sweep through the Angeles National Forest. He has captured not only every detail of the route (vegetation, rock formations, road signs, buildings, intersections, etc.), but also the soaring spirit of the run (well known to motorcyclists who revere the old Ridge Route as hallowed ground). Like the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash (of which I was a co-founder; it's right there in Brock Yates' book), the only question remaining is: which car is the best for the drive?

There might be two categories. One, What vehicle of any type can set the fastest absolute time? And Two, What vehicle of the type you might actually encounter on the route (i.e., in real life) is the fastest? In the first category, I almost set my absolute best time in the Peugeot 208T16, an 875-horsepower, 4WD 'Formula Libre' machine (run whatcha brung) kitted out with a front aero appendage the size of a commercial snow plow and a wing on the back the size of a Marine attack carrier. The 208T16 was purpose-built to smash all the old records at the Pike's Peak hillclimb in 2013 and driven by rally champ Sebastien Loeb it did just that with a time of 8:13.9.

As released for AC, the 208T16 had one serious shortcoming: it was geared for a top speed of only 150 mph. So I re-geared it for a theoretical 200+ mph (with the wings laid flat) and an actual 190 mph top end for L.A. Canyons. I made no other changes, but later, megolito, over at GT Planet, re-released it with some additional tweaks. That's the car I used for my LAC run. I believe it's capable of a sub-10-minute run, but the next problem is the fuel capacity: 60 liters. I twice ran out of fuel whilst attempting PBs, both times within sight of the finish line, so I had to coast home, dead stick, without breaking my record. I tried again, with more luck, in the Red Bull 2010X fantasy F1 car, but I decided a more realistic approach would have more resonance with old car guys like me.

Using the Cannonball Run as a paradigm, the idea should be to determine what's the fastest street legal car for one lap of L.A. Canyons (now up to version 1.2). That is, no pavement-scraping spoilers, no high-rise wings, no grasping diffusers, no chrome-moly roll cages, no gumball slicks, no 120-db straight pipes, just...well...street legal. There are no lack of contenders, from precisely-accurate hypercars to 're-worked' showroom-stock supercars. I tried 'em all. Following are my setups (one lap each) for the ten fastest street cars I've driven in L.A. Canyons. (Your results may vary.)
 
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Toonces

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Oct 22, 2010
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Fastest of all (all the rest are in descending order) is the 700-bhp Porsche 911 GT2 RS MR (for Manthey Racing, from which it was developed; it looks track-ready, there's even a fire bottle in the passenger's foot well). Despite the GT2 monicker, this is not an FIA designation, and the mod itself (originally done by forceful) is so old I had to use CM to swap in working sfx files.
 

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Toonces

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Oct 22, 2010
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Right behind the Porsche comes the McLaren P1 hybrid, a Kunos car. Battery power is just the ticket for the canyons, where its instant on-demand torque is a huge big help squirting from apex to apex.
 

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Toonces

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Oct 22, 2010
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Next, another hybrid car, the redundant-sounding Ferrari LaFerrari, which was the first production car to incorporate the F1-style KERS hybrid technology. Kudos to Kunos. However, like most street-specific cars, it has a lot of push that can't be dialed out. If the brake balance was adjustable, you could use more rear brake effort to rotate the car, but sadly it's fixed.
 

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Toonces

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Oct 22, 2010
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Next, the Lamborghini Siam by RTM (the only payware in this list). Another hybrid, it's fun watching the green battery-power level rise and fall with the alternating brake & throttle, although it burns twice as much fuel per lap as the Porsche. How green is that?
 

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Toonces

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Oct 22, 2010
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The old-tech Hennessey Venom is right up there, too, with a twin-turbo 7-liter V8, 1,200 bhp and a zero-to-sixty time faster than you can sneeze. With power to burn (also zu Sprachen), I dialed the boost back to 70% and found it much easier to drive...and very little slower.
 

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Toonces

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Oct 22, 2010
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The Ferrari 488 Pista looks like its racy cousin, the Ferrari 488 GT3. but the Pista is strictly for the street. It has trouble getting the power down (and the diff lock isn't a variable, alas).
 

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Toonces

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Oct 22, 2010
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There are more Aston Martin Vantage mods than you could shake a dipstrick at, but the one I drove here was a Pro model reworked by Mike Y (aka megolito). The only way I could tell it was a street car was by its luxurious interior. On the hoof, it felt kinda ponderous.
 

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Toonces

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Oct 22, 2010
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The particular Ferrari FXX under review was of even less certain provenance but acquitted itself well in the canyons. Agile, very secure feeling. See if you can find one with parameters that match.
 

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Toonces

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Oct 22, 2010
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Another Ferrari: the 812 Superfast (another Kunos car) did about as well as you could expect from a front-engined Grand Touring car, even one powered by the storied Ferrari V12.
 

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Toonces

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Oct 22, 2010
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Bookending the Top Ten: another Porsche, this one a Porsche-by-Singer 4.0, the very best of the air-cooled Porsche brigade (you could buy two water-cooled 911s for what Rob Dickenson would charge you for his total rebuild...and it's worth it). The smoothest car in AC, bar none.
 

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Toonces

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Oct 22, 2010
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So, there you have it. If you like my setups, give me a Like. If not, tell me why (never too old to learn).

See you at the races!
 
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Toonces

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Oct 22, 2010
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Of course, somebody had to point out that I omitted three of the most infamous 'street legal' cheater cars ever: the Alabama-registered Porsche 917K (license place #156947) and the German-registered Porsche 911 GT1 (#KLM 1998) and the Toyota TS020 GT One (#V785 LDE). Of those, the Toyota is far and away the fastest (setup attached):
 

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